My daughter recently began violin lessons for the first time. We went to have her measured for the instrument, and I watched her as it was carefully packed up. She was so proud of it, sitting next to it in the car on the way home with an ever-protective hand hovering slightly over it in case of any unexpected bumps in the road.
When she began her first lesson, the instructor explained the different parts of the violin – the fingerboard, the neck, the shoulders, and only motioned toward its bow, still firmly nestled in its case.
“We won’t be using the bow for the first few weeks,” he explained, and then had my daughter hold the violin around its neck. “Now hold the violin up as high as you can,” he instructed, demonstrating for her, and she followed suit. “I call this the Statue of Liberty pose. Hold it there for a count of ten. Ten…nine…” when he counted down to one, he had her rest for a moment.
They went through a series of picking exercises, but I was most struck by the Statue of Liberty – the importance of strengthening the arm and hand muscles way before she’d get to playing any notes. It reminded me of working with my kids when they were in preschool with their scissor skills, reinforcing that connection between having the hand and finger strength to cut through construction paper and the later skills of handwriting.
Has 2022 felt like the Statue of Liberty pose to you? Was it uncomfortable? Just plain hard work? Maybe it was a disappointment because instead of getting to play with the bow and get fancy with your year right away, it instead ended up being a series of tough (but very important!) exercises. I think a lot of my year felt that way, too, but although it feels unglamorous and exhausting, there’s a lot of hope there. Where else can the tough times lead except resilience and strength over time? What can be gained from consistently holding up a weight except a stronger muscle, increased focus, and improved confidence?
As part of the violin practices my daughter was assigned throughout the week – moving the violin from rest position to playing position, playing a short, two-note song, etc. – time in the Statue of Liberty pose was also prescribed. I have a feeling that will continue long after she’s able to use the bow, maybe something she’ll have to do for years. And although I know it’s no fun, I’m glad for it, because it’s so much a microcosm of what our own lives are like: so many building-block moments that gradually build on themselves to become a larger picture.
It’s very rare that raw, natural talent delivers flawless performances right from the get-go. 99.999% of the time, we need discipline and practice and training to get where we want or need to go. My hope for you is that if 2022 was indeed a tough year for you, where you mostly just had to hold up your metaphorical arm for a very long time with very little rest, that 2023 and beyond will be filled with beautiful music you have made for yourself.
Until next time, be well!
About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.